Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Book Review: Saving Gideon

Saving Gideon
B&H Books (October 1, 2012)
Amy Lillard

A Word from Amy:I’m a wife, mother, and bona fide Southern belle. Published author, expert corn bread maker, and Squirrel Princess.

I live in Tulsa, though I was born in Mississippi. I moved to the Sooner State when I was seventeen and met my soul mate and best friend not long after. I’ve retained a little of my Mississippi accent though most people think I’m from Texas. (?) Rob and I have been married for over twenty years and have a son–a mom proclaimed prodigy, of course!

I love homemade tacos, shoes, and romance novels–not necessarily in that order. I’m a big fan of country music, a staunch proponent of saving the Oxford comma, and I’m shamefully obsessed with all things Harry Potter.

I believe that God is love. I guess that’s why I adore romances.

I have always been intrigued with the Amish culture, their gentle ways and slower-paced lifestyle. (And I love, love, love the fact that they stay married for their lifetime.) But until recently I never thought to blend this interest with my penchant for romance. Okay, okay, I’m a bit old-fashioned and even enjoy the gender roles that are present in this culture. I love to cook and take care of my family. Yes, that’s me June Cleaver with a laptop.

I dislike people trying to convince me to read the Twlight series (I’ll get to it or I won’t, either way I’m good with it), gratuitous violence, and strawberry ice cream. (I know I’m alone on this last one, and again, I’m good with it.)

Favorite movies–(besides HP) French Kiss, Maid of Honor, A Lot Like Love, Just Married, and Sweet Home Alabama. Oh, and Miss Congeniality, Sabrina (both versions) and a 1940′s movie called Dear Ruth. If you haven’t seen it, you should! A-dorable. Anything with Doris Day and most all of Marilyn’s and Audrey’s.

Gideon Fisher wants one thing out of life -- to be left alone. This is not the Amish way, but he’s devastated after the death of his wife and son to the point of losing his faith. He buys a farm on the outskirts of the district and pulls away from his community. But when a freak spring snowstorm brings a beautiful Englisher to his farm, what choice does Gideon have but to let her in?

Dallas socialite Avery Ann Hamilton is intrigued by the Amish farmer who pulls her out of the snow and into his austere lifestyle. Poor little rich girl, Avery has just gone through (yet another) bad breakup. Every man she meets only wants her for her father’s money. All she has ever wanted is to be loved for herself. Avery soon discovers the Oklahoma Amish country is the perfect place to hide out and heal her broken heart.

But she finds a peace in those back roads that she’s never felt before. Now her life has purpose and meaning as she connects with God and those around her. And there’s something more as she begins to care for this man who needs both love and forgiveness.

Gideon never wanted to live again much less fall in love, but Avery finds her way into his heart, showing him the beauty of life and God’s greatness. Yet as the feelings between Avery and Gideon grow, can they overcome their dissimilar lifestyles, or will their sheer differences pull them apart?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Saving Gideon, go HERE

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Carolina Renaissance Festival

Adam loved watching the knights unseat each other during the joust!
Many years ago, my brother and I started attending the Carolina Renaissance Festival every year. We were both skeptical at first, but loved it! The more than 500 costumed characters that interact with festival goers and the 11 stages for music and comedy shows, all of which are free with admission, really make this festival great.A few years I talked my hubby into going and from then on he and I went every year. Well, it's been a few years since I had been, but this year my oldest begged to go. My youngest have never been, and my oldest has only been once that I can remember, so I decided it would be a good day trip.

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so all these photos were taken with my cell phone. It was okay, but not nearly as good as my "good" camera.

Adam with a knight in shining armor.
Nancy's son, Mitchell, decided to join us. So I drove the two hours up there, and we were joined at the last minute by another relative. We had fun, although it was very different than in previous years. It wasn't that the festival was different, it was that we were. It was the first time I had ever been without my brother and/or husband. It was the first time I had a young child with me.

Justin tried to get up Jacob's ladder. Although the person administering the game demonstrated it himself, none of the festival goers could get to the top.
Adam loved this guy, Gypsy Geoff. He was good, clean, fun with a lot of juggling and balancing acts. Adam, 9, has been trying to balance things on the tip of his finger ever since he saw him. 
I love the shows, which are free with admission. But nearly all the shows are geared toward adults. Even though I purposely steered away from the ones that were rated for more mature audiences, Adam quickly became bored with the other ones. All the jokes were way over his head and he didn't understand why they were funny. So we ended up spending the whole day walking around.... which meant my feet were hurting at the end of the day, lol!
Adam rode a camel with some other festival goers.
Mannequins who were "hung" in the dungeon.
But we had a good time, and young Adam, who really didn't want to go in the first place, loved it and decided he wants to go back next year. He did, however, say that next year he would NOT go in the dungeon again. It was a little too scary for a very sensitive child like him.
This freaky girl played music all day long.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Book Review: All Things New

All Things New
Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Lynn Austin

MY REVIEW:  I grew up out west, but have lived in the south for several years. And, let me tell you, even 147 years later, the Civil War can still be a bit of a touchy subject with die-hard southerners. So I was a bit apprehensive about how Lynn Austin's book on the Reconstruction period would turn out.

I'm happy to say I think she did an awesome job capturing the thoughts and feelings of the former slaves right along with the southern plantation owners. In "All Things New," Austin explores the difficulties faced by everybody who was left behind. It was not only a matter of physical, emotional, and financial hardships, but one of no longer knowing who you were and what your future held.

Austin explores some really tough relationships... between former slaves and their former owners, between veterans from the north and south, and between those women who were left behind to fend for themselves and then had to pick up the pieces of their families.

I would love to see a sequel to this book. I want to know how the characters lives' progressed and where they ended up. Lynn Austin did a great job with this one!

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Josephine Weatherly and her mother, Eugenia, struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives when they return to their Virginia plantation. But the bitter realities of life after the war cannot be denied: their home and land are but shells of their previous grandeur; death has claimed her father and brother; and her remaining brother, Daniel, has returned home bitter and broken. The privileged childhood Josephine enjoyed now seems like a long-ago dream. And the God who failed to answer any of her prayers during the war is lost to her as well.

Josephine soon realizes that life is now a matter of daily survival--and recognizes that Lizzie, as one of the few remaining servants, is the one she must rely on to teach her all she needs to know. Josephine's mother, too, vows to rebuild White Oak...but a bitter hatred fuels her.

With skill and emotion, Lynn Austin brings to life the difficult years of the Reconstruction era by interweaving the stories of three women--daughter, mother, and freed slave--in a riveting tale.

If you would like to read the first chapter of All Things New, go HERE.

For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband's work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she'd earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bye-bye summer storms!

It was a doozy of a summer. Rain, rain, and more rain. Like the storm above. I had to sit behind that truck while that little bulldozer thing in front of it moved a downed tree out of the road.

How about this storm, that blew my neighbor's barn clear to the ground? This piece of tin off his barn was stopped by that tree only feet from my home. The wind was so high it wrapped the tin around the tree. We were picking up pieces of his barn for days, and he had to call on his insurance company.

During another storm, this tree down the road was split by lightning.

The heat and the summer storms are over and an autumn nip is in the air. This week I'll be vacuuming out the heating vents, starting the pilot light on the furnace and getting ready to use up all the propane.

Somebody remind me to save $500 to fill that thing up mid-winter. This will be my first winter heating with propane, so let's keep our fingers crossed!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wildlife bed or nest?

Any ideas as to what made this bed to rest on? It's at the edge of the woods on my property, although it could very well be an old nest. It's mostly pine needles. I have no idea what made it, but I am curious. What do you think?
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